New York, NY: A former unpaid intern at Atlantic Records claims the record company required him to work full-time over eight months without pay, often 10 hours a day, according to a proposed employment class-action law suit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
This is the first unpaid internship lawsuit to be filed against a music industry business, according to lawyers involved in suit, which alleges that Atlantic Records and its parent, Warner Music Group Corp, violated New York State Labor law by requiring the intern, Justin Henry, of Brooklyn, to work full time without pay.
Henry was an intern in 2007 for Atlantic engaged in filing, faxing, answering phones and fetching lunch for paid employees, according to the suit.
Henry, who is represented by Maurice S. Pianko, of New York-based Intern Justice; Lloyd Ambinder of New York-based Virginia & Ambinder LLP, and Jeffrey K. Brown, of Leeds Brown Law PC, contends in the lawsuit that his internship existed solely for the benefit of Atlantic Records, and that he received no training or mentorship.
Unpaid internships must exist for training purposes and employers may derive "no immediate advantage"from the work provided by interns, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.
"Unpaid interns are 'employees' under New York labor law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and they are eligible to sue for unpaid wages going back six years,"said Brown.
"College students and recent graduates are amongst the most vulnerable workers. They are desperate to gain employment, and will often accept any work without compensation in the hope of one day gaining fulltime employment with a company,"said Ambinder.
Henry is seeking to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime, as well as attorney' fees. Atlantic could have likely avoided the lawsuit had it paid Henry the then-minimum wage of $7.15 per hour.
Atlantic Records is home to such music acts as Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, Phil Collins and James Blunt. In the past, the company has posted ads for interns for a variety of specialties, including Web design, e-commerce, quality assurance and digital marketing.
The case is: Justin Henry, et. al v. Warner Music Group Corp. and Atlantic Recording Corp., New York State Supreme Court, Manhattan. No. 155527/2013.